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  • 3 Marines killed


    WASHINGTON — The Pentagon says the remains of three U.S. Marines killed when their helicopter was shot down during the Vietnam War will be buried next week at Arlington National Cemetery.

    The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced Friday that the remains of the three men will be buried as a group with full military honors next Thursday. The three men are: Capt. John A. House II, of Pelham, New York; Lance Cpl. John D. Killen III, of Davenport, Iowa; and Cpl. Glyn L. Runnels Jr., of Birmingham, Alabama.

    The Pentagon says their remains were identified in March 2017.

    Military officials say House, the oldest at 28, was the pilot of the Sea Knight helicopter that crashed after being hit by enemy fire on June 30, 1967. Four others also were killed, including 18-year-old Killen and 21-year-old Runnels.


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  • 65M


    CATHEDRALCITY,Calif. – Bill Schneid stood in his home office, holding a package of skin cream worth more than gold. He didn't know exactly what he had stumbled on, but he was pretty sure it was illegal.

    It was March 2015. A few weeks before, Schneid, 72, a curmudgeonly private investigator, had been snooping aroundSouthern California military bases when a Marine he knew mentioned he had a strange source of side income.

    The Marine was being paid to get medicine he didn’t need. ATennessee doctor he had never met wrote him a medicinal cream prescription, which was being filled by a pharmacy inUtah. The military covered the bill and the Marine got a cash kickback from somebody. When the creams arrived in the mail, the Marine didn't actually use them.

    He was in it for the money, not the medicine, after all.

    Suspicious, Schneid launched a ruse to investigate, persuading the Marine to reroute the shipments to his house. Soon, Schneid received a shoebox-sized parcel that held several tubes of cream about the same size and consistency as sunscreen that was supposedly used to treat pain and scars.

    This medicine had been prescribed, supplied and delivered seemingly for no reason at all. Nobody needed it. Nobody wanted it. So what was the point?

    “After the second delivery, I realized this was some kind of fraud,” Schneid said in an interview. “I believed there were about a dozen Marines involved, and they were being actively recruited to be prescribed this cream.

    “It was a conspiracy, and it was growing, but I just didn’t know how huge.”

    Today, court records make clear the enormity of the conspiracy. The scheme that Schneid stumbled upon in 2015 stretched fromCalifornia toTennessee, involving people and companies from at least four states. InTennessee, two doctors and a nurse practitioner have pleaded guilty to defrauding a military insurance program, called Tricare, out of $65 million. At least two more suspects are still facing charges. Federal prosecutors also are attempting to seize swaths ofEast Tennessee farmland, a strip mall, and a large estate they argue was purchased with health care fraud profits.

    OutsideTennessee, an ex-Marine inSan Diego has confessed to recruiting Marines for the scheme and aUtah pharmacy company is under indictment. That company is also linked to an even larger scheme inMississippi, where seven people have pleaded guilty to using similar medicinal creams to defraud the federal government out of an additional $400 million.

    “It was just a setup to pay cash to patients and then turn around and prescribe them this expensive cream,” said Jerry Martin, a formerU.S. attorney who specializes in health care fraud.

    Martin reviewed the pain cream case at the request of The Tennessean, calling the conspiracy "extraordinarily brazen."

    “If these allegations are true, that is just a criminal enterprise," he added. "There is just nothing legitimate about it.”

    Pain creams cost $14,500 – each

    InTennessee, the crux of the cream conspiracy was Choice MD, a small, now-shuttered clinic in Cleveland, a manufacturing town near theGeorgia border.

    A Choice MD nurse practitioner, Candace Michelle Craven, has admitted she conducted fake telemedicine evaluations with Marines inCalifornia so that two Choice MD doctors, Susan Vergot and Carl Lindblad, could write nearly 4,500 cream prescriptions to Marines they had never met or diagnosed.

    Each prescription cost about $14,500. American taxpayers covered the cost.

    Vergot and Lindblad pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud in April, and Craven pleaded guilty in November. But all three are still licensed to practice medicine inTennessee. Their sentencing hearings have been delayed until March, likely to provide time for them to testify against other suspects in the case.

    Steven Moore, an attorney who represents Vergot and Lindblad, said the doctors knew the prescriptions “weren’t right,” but were unaware of the larger conspiracy.

    “It wasn’t their scam,”Moore said. “They just kind of buried their heads in the sand, and that’s why they’ve taken responsibility by entering a plea. … But it’s important to know they aren’t the big fish here.”

    The big fish – or at least a bigger fish – are the owners of Choice MD, Jimmy and Ashley Collins, ofBirchwood,Tennessee. Federal prosecutors have indicted the couple and are attempting to seize four of their properties that authorities say were bought with profits from the prescription scam.

    One of those – a 4,500-square-foot mansion on a 60-acre estate with an ornate iron gate emblazoned with a large "C" – was bought by Ashley Collins for $843,000 with money directly traced to fraud earnings, federal court documents state.

    The Collinses, who have pleaded not guilty, are accused of using kickbacks to create a fake customer base for their prescriptions. Court documents say they led a network of prescription recruiters who targeted Marines aroundCampPendleton, often by convincing the Marines they were joining a drug trial for the pain and scar creams. Marines were paid about $300 in illegal kickbacks each month, court records state.

    The leader of these recruiters was Joshua Morgan, a former San Diego Marine who pleaded guilty to his role in the conspiracy in February. Morgan was at one time roommates with the Marine at the beginning of this story, who is not being named because he has not been charged with any crime.

    Prosecutors have filed charges againstCFK Inc., the parent company of The Medicine Shoppe, a pharmacy inBountiful,Utah, that made millions from the Choice MD prescriptions. Prosecutors say the pharmacy was bought byCFK in December 2014, then the business model changed overnight.

    The pharmacy's billings to Tricare, which once amounted to about $40 apiece, rose to an average of more than $13,000. During the first five months of 2015, The Medicine Shoppe billed Tricare for $67 million.

    Court documents identify the owners of the pharmacy by only their initials – W.W. and T.S. – but business records appear to reveal the full names of at least one.CFK is owned by another company, Walters Holdings LLC, which in turn is owned byMississippi businessman Wade Walters.

    Walters is the subject of a criminal investigation in a separate but similar case inMississippi where authorities have raided at least three of his pharmacies and arrested 12 people, including four pharmacists, a doctor, an oral surgeon and two nurse practitioners. Seven of the accused conspirators have confessed, another was convicted at trial, and at least three more are expected to go to trial this year.

    Walters has not been indicted in either case, but prosecutors have frozen his assets.

    “To maximize profits from the fraud scheme, the pharmacies created their own demand for compounded medications,” prosecutors say in court records. “The pharmacies illegally engaged a series of marketers to provide incentives to doctors to write prescriptions for compounded medications and divert patients to the pharmacies.”

    To understand the details of this Tricare fraud, The Tennessean reviewed and cross-referenced hundreds of pages of court documents from 15 separate federal court cases, including criminal prosecutions, search warrants, forfeiture proceedings and a whistleblower lawsuit that Schneid filed in an effort to collect a reward for his discovery.

    Schneid's attorneys would not permit him to comment for this story, but a Tennessean reporter previously interviewed Schneid and inspected the medicinal creams at his home in 2015.

    Court records unsealed last year reveal that the federal investigation into Choice MD officially began three weeks after Schneid discovered and reported the suspicious prescriptions, showing he may have kicked off the entire criminal investigation.

    A Tricare investigation begins

    Not long after Schneid began receiving the cream packages in the mail in 2015, he decided to warn the government about what he had found.

    Sitting in his messy home office, surrounded by paperwork from his long career as a private investigator, Schneid tapped out an email to Tricare’s fraud department, saying he had uncovered a “fraudulent multi-level marketing scheme.”

    A Tricare representative responded a few hours later, believing that Schneid had found a routine “phishing” scam designed to steal his private information, according to email records obtained by The Tennessean. Schneid wrote back, insisting Tricare was missing the point.

    “It’s deeper than that,” Schneid wrote. “(The Marine) makes a percentage of the commission as do the others that signed him up.”

    Suddenly, the government started listening.

    In a matter of days, Schneid had guests on his doorstep. Eleanor Gailey, an inspector from the Department of Defense’s Office of the Inspector General, flew toCalifornia to inspect the creams, emails show. She was accompanied by officers from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, which investigate crimes in the Marine Corps.

    In an interview, Schneid said authorities would not reveal exactly what he had stumbled upon, but he agreed to help anyway. They made a plan: Schneid would continue to play dumb, receiving the Marine's cream prescriptions in the mail, then he would wrap the packages in evidence tape and hand them over to the NCIS. He did this for a few months until the prescription ran out and the cream stopped coming.

    Then, in May 2015, it became clear what was going on.

    That was when CBS News published an investigation revealing a Tricare loophole that appeared to be costing taxpayers millions, if not billions, of dollars. The CBS investigation said military troops across the country were being prescribed “cure-all” medicinal creams that did next to nothing but cost taxpayers a fortune every month.

    The creams were marketed as “compounded” medication. Compounding is a practice in which a pharmacist mixes several medicines into one to create a treatment tailored for a specific patient. Because every mix is unique, compounded medicines are not reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration and often cost much more than standard medicine. As of 2015, Tricare covered the full cost of compounded medicine for active-duty troops.

    "We're on track this year to spend over $2 billion unless we get our hands around this," said Maj. Gen. Richard Thomas, then-head of Tricare, in the 2015 CBS report. "It's just been astronomical, an explosion of the charges in a relatively short period of time."

    Schneid's jaw dropped as he watched the CBS report.

    He thought over all the clues he had seen in the last three months – the unnecessary creams, the cash kickbacks, theTennessee doctors, theUtah pharmacy and the abrupt interest from federal inspectors.

    Suddenly it all made sense.

    “I had thought it was just this very localized fraud,” Schneid said. “It wasn’t until then I understood the enormity of this thing.”

    The Choice MD conspiracy is far from the only cream scheme to take advantage of Tricare’s compounded medical loophole. In June, the U.S. Department of Justice announced it had charged 601 suspects in a nationwide health care fraud investigation into dozens of similar but unconnected fraud schemes, many of which used compounded medications and kickbacks to swindle Medicare, Medicaid or Tricare. The investigation was called the largest health care fraud investigation in American history.

    The U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to comment for this story, citing ongoing investigations inTennessee,California andMississippi. Attorneys for Walters, Craven, Ashley Collins andCFK either declined to comment or did not respond to calls and emails requesting comment. Jimmy Collins currently does not have an attorney and could not be reached for comment.


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  • Help Homeless Vets


    Sgt. Michael Boyd suffered from PTSD, opioid addiction after returning from tour in Afghanistan


    A Marine who passed away in October is continuing to help others even after his death.

    Family and friends of Sgt. Michael Boyd gathered at the FaithBridge Church in Manchester over the weekend to help homeless Veterans.

    Boyd’s loved ones helped pack emergency blankets, gloves, razors and other essentials into bags.

    “In an effort to do something good with our grief, Kelly and I, she actually suggested we take some Veterans to lunch, and it sort of turned into this incredibly huge event in Michael's honor,” Dawn Nicholls, Boyd’s girlfriend, said.

    Boyd came home from a tour in Afghanistan suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and an opioid addiction. Like many others, he slipped into homelessness.

    "It's sort of the forgotten population that deserves so much respect, and this was the best way we could honor Michael,” Nicholls said.

    Boyd died in October, but family members were determined that his name would stand for something that would help others.

    "We're carrying on what he would've done if he had been here," Kelly Pilotte, Boyd’s mother, said.

    Pilotte and other family members packed the bags on what would've been Boyd's 32nd birthday last week. They also provided lunch, a barber and resources for homeless Veterans.

    “We just want to treat these Vets today as they deserve to be treated. I mean, how many times will people walk by homeless people and won't even look at them?” Pilotte said.

    Red Sox hats, which Boyd always wore, were given to those at the event. The hats, which were donated by Keller Williams Realty, included the phone number to the Veterans’ crisis unit stitched inside.

    "Michael would definitely be here, hugging them all,” Pilotte said.

    The Veterans Crisis Line can be reached by calling 1-800-273-8255 and pressing 1 or by texting a message to 838255.


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  • Drug Dealer


    A Kalamazoo, Michigan, man will serve the rest of his life in prison for selling fentanyl that killed a man.

    Deondray Christopher Abrams, 26, was found guilty Wednesday, Nov. 28, of distributing fentanyl on March 21, 2017, which resulted in the death of Brandon Jay Demko, a U.S. Marine Corps Veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan who was suffering from severe PTSD, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

    Due to Abrams’ prior conviction, he faces a statutory mandatory term of life in prison when he is sentenced April 8.

    Demko, 33, purchased what he and friend Robert Larsen thought was heroin from Abrams on March 21, 2017. They went back to Larsen’s home, where Larsen injected Demko and himself, he testified at Abrams’ preliminary examination.

    Larsen testified he lost consciousness, then awoke 20 minutes later and found Demko blue and unresponsive. He shot Naloxone, meant to reverse overdoses, into his friend’s nose and when nothing happened, he called 911, according to a police report. Emergency responders arrived but could not save Demko.

    A federal jury convicted Abrams of distributing the fentanyl that killed Demko after a two-day trial.

    “Fentanyl is increasingly available in Western Michigan,” U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge said in a press release. “Drug dealers are mixing fentanyl with heroin and, as in this case, selling fentanyl as heroin. Fentanyl is so much more powerful than heroin that opioid deaths have risen in the past few years. The U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to aggressively prosecute opioid drug dealers whose product results in death.”


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  • Marine Col Turner


    Jim Turner was a decorated Marine who served his nation with honor. But the transition to civilian life proved to be too difficult and like 19 other Veterans every day he took his own life.

    ST. PETERSBURG — On Dec. 10, retired Marine Col. Jim Turner put on his dress uniform and medals and drove to the Bay Pines Department of Veterans Affairs complex. He got out of his truck, sat down on top of his military records and took his own life with a rifle.

    Aside from leaving behind grieving family and friends, Turner, 55, of Belleair Bluffs, left behind a suicide note that blasted the VA for what he said was its failure to help him.

    "I bet if you look at the 22 suicides a day you will see VA screwed up in 90%," wrote Turner, who was well-known and well-respected in military circles. "I did 20+ years, had PTSD and still had to pay over $1,000 a month health care."

    Turner’s death marked the fifth time since 2013 that a Veteran has taken his life at Bay Pines. There were more suicides there during those five years than at the rest of the VA hospitals in the state combined. There were none at the James A. Haley VA Medical Center in Tampa.

    It's unclear how many other Veterans killed themselves during that period at VA facilities around the nation. The government’s second-largest bureaucracy declined a federal Freedom of Information Act request by the Tampa Bay Times for that information last year. In an email Friday afternoon, VA spokeswoman Susan Carter said the agency only started collecting the information a month after the denial.

    From October 2017, to November 2018, there have been 19 suicide deaths at VA facilities around the United States, Carter said. The vast majority of Veteran suicides are off campus and 70 percent of those who take their lives hadn’t sought treatment from the VA, according to VA statistics.

    As for why it keeps happening at Bay Pines, officials there say they don’t have an answer.

    Long before he became a statistic — one of 20 Veterans who die by suicide every day — James Flynn Turner IV was a young man from a wealthy Baltimore family who joined the Marine Corps and reveled in his service to the nation.

    “My brother’s identity was being a Marine,” said Jon Turner.

    Jim Turner flew F-18s and then became an infantry officer, taking part in the invasion of Iraq in 2003. He later served in Afghanistan and spent a decade working at U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base.

    He left “an enduring legacy of professionalism, commitment and superior leadership which served as a guiding force for all service members whose lives he touched,” said Edward Dorman III, a recently retired Army major general who worked with Turner at Central Command for a decade. “That’s a life worth emulating.”

    When Turner retired, he lost his identity and began to struggle, his younger brother said.

    Those problems exacerbated some of the mental health issues Turner was experiencing from his time in the Marines, said his ex-wife, and led to the dissolution of their 27-year marriage,

    “He came home seemingly fine,” said Jennifer Turner. “It was a couple of years later that he just got more aggressive.”

    It was never anything physical, she said. “He just got agitated very easily. He had nightmares, where he would wake up screaming military stuff.”

    The problems reached a crescendo as Turner was retiring in 2015, his ex-wife said.

    The couple decided to separate. In January 2016, while Jennifer Turner was out of town, Turner grew angry at his son and chased him out of the house with a gun. Pinellas County Sheriff’s deputies responded and detained him under the state’s Baker Act.

    Jennifer Turner believes her ex-husband may have taken his life because he was refused treatment at Bay Pines. Both she and Jon Turner say it was quite possible he became frustrated with having to wait and left without being helped.

    The VA did not comment, citing privacy concerns.

    Others who lost a loved one to suicide at Bay Pines have different theories on why they chose to end their lives there.

    Vietnam War Navy Veteran Jerry Reid, 67, may have driven to the VA to take his own life on Feb. 7, 2013, because he lived alone and didn’t want to have his body found weeks or months later, said his friend, Bob Marcus.

    Joseph Jorden, 57, a medically retired Army Green Beret, likely took his life at Bay Pines on March 17, 2017, not because of poor treatment, but because he felt safe there, said his brother, Mark Jorden.

    But Gerhard Reitmann, 66, who served with the Marines in Vietnam and later as a guard for President Richard Nixon at Camp David, “felt like the VA wasn’t really taking care of him” when he ended his life at Bay Pines on Aug. 25, 2015, said his brother, Stephan Reitmann.

    The mother of Esteban Rosario, 24, who ended his life at Bay Pines on May 8, 2013, could not be reached for comment.

    Regardless of why he took his own life, Turner left behind family and friends, many of whom gathered for a memorial service Friday afternoon in Largo, still struggling with the aftermath.

    "Both of his heartbroken children are currently in school and they have lost their main means of financial support,'' his sister-in-law, Katie Turner, wrote on a GoFundme site set up to help them "In lieu of flowers, the family has humbly requested donations for the children's continued educational expenses. "


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  • Lance Cpl James Stogner


    Marines weren't going to let Lance Cpl. James Stogner's heroism during a brutal Vietnam War battle go forgotten.

    Left only with his Ka-Bar knife when his company was ambushed by a battalion-sized enemy force, Stogner fought back. He was determined to save any Marine he could after his company was surrounded and nearly defeated by North Vietnamese fighters in April 1967.

    He was deployed with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines. That was 52 years ago and, after years of pushing for his heroism to be recognized, Stogner was awarded the Navy Cross earlier this month. He was presented with the valor award, second only to the Medal of Honor, in a ceremony in northwest Montana.

    "I did what I could do to help save more people," Stogner said in a Marine Corps video about his actions that day. "All I had left was my Ka-Bar."

    The former lance corporal was with a machine-gun team at the time of the ambush. They took intense enemy fire from automatic weapons, grenades and mortars, according to Stogner's award citation.

    The lead platoon and company command group suffered devastating casualties, including the company commander. When Stogner's machine-gun team leader was severely wounded, four enemy soldiers grabbed the wounded Marine and took him to a nearby tree line, where they began torturing him.

    "At this point, Lance Cpl. Stogner showed his true mettle," former Capt. Wallace Dixon, the company commander, said at Stogner's award ceremony. "He could've crawled off in the dark and gotten away. But he did not."

    Despite his own painful wounds and with complete disregard for his own safety, Stogner pursued the enemy into the tree line to rescue his fellow Marine, his award citation states.

    "After his service rifle malfunctioned, he used his [Ka-Bar] fighting knife to kill the enemy soldiers, then picked up his machine gunner and the machine gun, and carried them back to friendly lines," the citation adds.

    Those actions were never recognized until now, Dixon said during the ceremony. His section team leader had originally written his actions down on a food ration box in the field, Marine Corps Times reported. But the unit was still in combat, and the paperwork was "lost in the shuffle," Stogner told the outlet.

    When the unit gathered for a reunion 13 years ago, Marines realized Stogner had never received recognition. He was initially put up for the Medal of Honor, according to Marine Corps Times, but the nomination lacked the number of eye witnesses required for that award to be approved.

    In an interview for a Marine Corps video, Stogner said he couldn't paint a pretty picture about that deployment. You either adapted or you died, he said.

    "You don't leave nobody behind -- you bring everybody out," he said.

    Stogner's bold and decisive action saved the life of his fellow Marine, his Navy Cross citation states.

    "And his undaunted courage and complete dedication to duty reflected great credit upon him and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service," it concludes.


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  • Marines Sky Penis


    A Marine aircraft drew another penis in the sky, Marine Corps spokesman Maj. Brian Block confirmed on Tuesday.

    The plane from the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing was responsible for two phallic flight patterns noticed by a Twitter user, Block told Task & Purpose.

    Marines Sky Penis 02

    The T-34C came from Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 101, said Maj. Josef Patterson, a spokesman for 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. It was not immediately clear how many aviators were in the plane at the time, he said.

    “We’ve opened an investigation that is underway as we speak,” Patterson told Task & Purpose. “More to follow soon.”

    This is the second confirmed sky dong since November 2017, when two Navy EA-18G Growler flew a hard pattern over Washington state, leaving contrails in the shape of a wang.

    Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker, former commander of Naval Air Forces, personally disciplined the two Navy aviators responsible for the original sky phallus at a Field Naval Aviator Evaluation Board. They were punished administratively and ordered to hold a series of “Change the Culture” briefs, to explain to their fellow crews how their actions fell far short of what was expected of them and what “strategic effects” their behavior could create.

    “The American people rightfully expect that those who wear the wings of gold exhibit a level of maturity commensurate with the missions and aircraft with which they’ve been entrusted,” Shoemaker said at the time.

    “Sophomoric and immature antics of a sexual nature have no place in Naval aviation today. We will investigate this incident to get all the facts and act accordingly. This event clearly stands in stark contrast to the way our aviators and sailors are performing with utmost professionalism, discipline and excellence from our carrier flight decks and expeditionary airfields around the world today”

    Similar contrail patterns that appeared over Germany in April proved to be Freudian, but not phallic.

    Statement From The 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing:

    “A T-34C aircraft assigned to Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 101, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, flew an irregular flight pattern over the Salton Sea that resembled a phallic image. An investigation to uncover the facts and circumstances surrounding the incident is ongoing. The aircrew’s chain of command are committed to maintaining an environment of professionalism, dignity and respect. The Marines and Sailors of 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing will perform at the highest levels expected of professional war fighters, and uphold our core values of honor, courage and commitment.”


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  • Marines Get Boot


    The Corps just pushed out its guidance on the Defense Department’s new “deploy or get out policy,” aimed at boosting readiness and lethality by booting out service members who have been non-deployable for 12 months.

    But Marines shouldn’t expect to have the full 12 months to whoop themselves back into deployable shape.

    In a forcewide message posted Wednesday, the Corps says it can start administrative or disability separation procedures before the 12-month mark.

    “Initiation of administrative or disability separation processing may occur prior to a Marine being in a non-deployable status for 12 months when a commanding officer determines there is a reasonable expectation that the reason will not be resolved and the Marine will not become deployable,” the MARADMIN reads.

    Only about 4 percent of the Corps, or 7,458 active-duty Marines, excluding trainees and transient personnel, were considered non-deployable as of Aug. 31, 2018, according to Maj. Craig Thomas, a spokesman for Manpower and Reserve Affairs. The figures include temporary and permanent non-deployable Marines.

    The reasons for their non-deployable status varies, Thomas said, but most of them are medically related, with some temporarily non-deployable due to illness or injury.

    “Our focus is to help these Marines heal as quickly as possible so they can get back to training with their unit,” Thomas said.

    But another group, those permanently non-deployable and pending a disability evaluation, the Corps' goal is to “seek a timely disability decision in coordination with the Department of Veterans Affair and Department of Defense and help transition the member to life outside the military,” Thomas told Marine Corps Times.

    The Corps has always separated recruits and Marines who have been in a long-term non-deployable status, with the exception of pregnant and postpartum Marines. The Corps' retention separation policy falls in line with the new Defense Department’s new instructions, Thomas explained.

    “What has changed with this new policy is the retention decision that was previously left to the commanding generals will now come to Marine Corps Headquarters (Manpower & Reserve Affairs) for further review and adjudication,” Thomas explained.

    However, there are some exemptions and leeway in the new policy.

    “Pregnant and post-partum Marines are the only group automatically exempted from the retention determinations directed in this MARADMIN for pregnancy related health conditions during pregnancy through the post-partum period,” the message reads.

    Any other exemptions must go through the secretary of defense, according to the MARADMIN.

    The Defense Department also has exempted combat wounded Marines.

    Marines in a non-deployable status for more than 12 months will be evaluated for retention, but the Corps reserves the ability to retain Marines “on case by case basis if determined to be in the best interest of the Marine Corps.”

    A Military Times report found that nearly 126,000 service members across the total force were listed non-deployable as of Aug. 31, 2018.

    A Military Times story first warned that service members across the military may not be afforded the entire 12 months until they are separated.


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  • Richard Marine


    SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (NEWS10) - When you see someone in uniform, many people say 'thank you for your service.' It's the least you can do for someone who's putting their life on the line for you. NEWS10 ABC’s Lydia Kulbida was shocked to find out from a local Veteran of the hidden price of service that some don't even know is taking a toll. Richard Marine told her, “It’s another cost of service that’s mostly invisible.”

    With a name like Marine, it sounds like a foregone conclusion what Richard Marine would be, but it wasn't easy. He was sitting in his seat on the bus going to boot camp at Parris Island when the drill instructor came on the bus.

    “He was going through the checklist of names, “ Richard recalled. “And he stopped and said, ‘I don’t believe this. You know who you are, stand up.’ And I assumed he was speaking to me because of my last name, which was correct. From that point forward I had a certain level of special attention in order to earn the title Marine.”

    After graduating boot camp at Parris Island in the summer of 1969, it was on to 10 weeks of infantry training at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.

    When Lydia asked, “What sticks out in your mind about your 10 weeks at Camp Lejeune?” Richard immediately answered, “The difficulty of it. It was real in the woods infantry training. It was long hikes with heavy packs, and it was live fire, crawl under machine gun fire.”

    Richard served in Thailand in 1972 before eventually leaving the service and settling in Schenectady, well known as a volunteer in the community and schools.

    “Everything I learned in the Marine Corps I was able to apply in life. I said life was wonderful and that's really the truth because we raised our kids, established our roots in the community, and got involved with a lot of things that were fun and fulfilling, and here we are. Despite what I consider to be myriad benefits, there was a significant price.”

    In 2008 came the news that changed his life: he was diagnosed with cancer.

    “People don't realize when they get struck down by cancer they don't immediately jump back to their time in service,” Richard said. "You don't even know how to make the connections.”

    With no family history of cancer, Richard started doing some research. Was his illness related to his service during the Vietnam War and the use of Agent Orange? A claim filed turned into a claim denied, like for many other Veterans in the Facebook group Thailand Vets of the Vietnam War. Richard read stories from people there that he called heartbreaking.

    “Where they've been trying and trying, providing proof after proof as their health deteriorates and the VA's position is no. Those people have been abandoned; it's really the only word for it. It's fundamentally wrong, and it is angering.”

    But it turns out the seeds of the illness could have been planted much closer to home. For decades, from 1953 to 1987, people living and working at Camp Lejeune were exposed to contaminated water.

    “There needs to be a better method when someone says there's poison over here, for someone qualified to go look at that poison and start the right process to limit the exposure to the population and that didn't happen," Richard said.

    In 2012, Richard found out online about the Camp Lejeune Families Act, which would provide free health care for certain conditions to Veterans who served at least 30 days at Camp Lejeune from the 50s to the 80s. But the money to pay for that care wasn't allocated until 2017, almost a decade after his cancer diagnosis.

    “It frustrates me, it makes me angry, and it's because there are so many people out there who haven't been blessed the way I've been blessed in life. They don't have the resources to necessarily maintain their family when these illness strike.”

    So Richard's mission has become to spread the word about the program and perhaps right some wrongs of the past.

    “I think this is a way for some Vietnam era Vets to get the compensation they should've gotten related to Agent Orange if they qualify, and that's my purpose. If they suffer from one of those conditions, they're eligible for free health care, related to that condition. Well again, in this age of huge premiums, deductibles and co-pays that could be a good thing.”

    The first step is to register. Richard was surprised his claim was approved in three months. But his cancer's timeline also changed.

    “The biggest risk with follicular lymphoma is a process called transformation and that means some tumors have transformed from an indolent slow growing disease into an aggressive fast growing disease and that has just occurred to me.”

    Richard just completed his latest round of chemotherapy, continuing to fight his cancer like a Marine, and continuing to spread the word about the program that could help others like him.

    Close to one million people, Veterans and family members, could have been exposed. Not even one-third are registered and getting information about benefits and trials. Some have already passed away.

    “It's become a cost of service that people do talk about,” Richard said. “That people acknowledge is real and expect that something will be done to compensate the people that put their lives on the line to keep us free.”

    Towards the end of the interview, Lydia asked Richard, “Does it ever make you regret your service” He answered quickly, “No, I learned so much, I had so many fantastic experiences, had the opportunity to go to places and do things I probably wouldn't have gone to or done and I don't regret it at all.”


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  • Marine Woman Gets to 2nd

    The first female Marine to complete the second phase in the intense selection process to become a MARSOC Raider, is leaving the Corps “for other opportunities” after being passed over for the final phase of training, reports.

    • Sgt. Bailey Weis, an aviation maintenance controller with Marine Attack Squadron 542, completed both phases of the Marine Special Operations Command’s Assessment and Selection course on her first attempt.
    • According to, Weis chose to leave the Marine Corps after she was not selected for the Individual Training Course, the nine-month crucible that molds qualified Marines into elite MARSOC Raiders, a MARSOC spokesman Maj. Nick Mannweiler told
    • Only 5% of initial applicants end up selected for the ITC, Mannweiler said.
    • “It feels good to be the first one because that way other females know it’s possible to do something like this,” Weis told “If that makes them want to do it more or have more confidence, then I think it’s going to break a good barrier — especially for special operations.”
    • “There are some cultures where men aren’t able to interact with women,” she added. “Having women on those missions who meet the same standards that you’ve got men in special operations meeting, that’s a huge asset.”
    • The sergeant has come the closest among female Marines to earning MARSOC’s Critical Skills Operator (0372) military occupational specialty. Currently, there are just 27 female Marines serving in the infantry (03) MOS.


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  • Marine Vets Malpractice


    He's left with a permanent disability and no way to recover damages. Instead, he's trying to change the law.

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